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Farewell "potting shed"

The potting shed at Edgbaston which is being knocked down
The "potting shed" commenatry box at Edgbaston which is being knocked down

By Pat Murphy
Five Live cricket reporter

There'll barely be a dry eye in the house in a certain quarter when the current Edgbaston Test ends on Monday.

Forget the result - it's the end of my stint in 'the potting shed' - my affectionate name for the commentary box.

High up in the gods, above the Victorian pavilion, this small, cosy little hiding place has been my home for England Tests since 1982.

Now the relentless march towards modernisation means we have to move out and re-locate to the other end of the ground, as new media facilities will be in place for the next England Test match in a year's time.

It'll be swanky but lacking in atmosphere. We'll probably be behind glass, unable to appreciate the special revivalist atmosphere of an Edgbaston Test, the most patriotic and raucous of international grounds in this country.

Murphy outside the "potting shed" at Edgbaston
Murphy has been commentating from the "potting shed" since 1982

Sat up in the shed, you could savour the noise and the fervour, particularly from the Eric Hollies Stand, just 50 yards way to my right.

I had a grandstand view of the time when Colin Flintoff, Andrew's dad, failed to catch a gigantic six off the big man's bat in the 2004 Test - and the hearty guffaws from Freddie at his old man's botched effort added to the hilarity.

Flintoff provided another special memory a year later when one of his soaring sixes off the Aussies landed up in the guttering alongside our box.

With the crowd roaring its approval, the umpires were wondering where the ball had gone. Graham Gooch, our summariser, did the necessary, hurling the battered ball back as the punters roared for more.

But my abiding memory is of the 1984 Test, when England came a comfortable second to the awesome West Indies machine.

It was bad enough seeing Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge et al clattering the bowling to all parts but then the tail-ender Michael Holding climbed in.

Enjoying himself hugely against the demoralised bowlers, he deposited one from Geoff Miller in the direction of myself and my summariser, Jack Bannister.

It must have been almost a carry of a hundred yards and we were live on air at the time. I recalled saying,' It's coming our way, Jack!' and then followed a crashing sound of shattering glass and the ball landed in my lap.

It was a massive blow and the gentleman Holding will always be remembered by me for that moment rather than his wonderful fast bowling.

I have been almost blown away by a combination of wind and rain that Captain Horatio Hornblower would recognise when broadcasting from 'the potting shed'.

I have also left the ground after five days with a suntan that would have cost good money on the Costa del Packet.

It just won't be the same when we are placed in the hermetically-sealed world of the modern luxurious media suite at the City End.

Perhaps I'll chain myself to the shed like a latter-day Suffragette, refusing to budge. Or perhaps Warwickshire CCC will donate it to my garden?

I shall certainly miss being out of breath from scaling that tortuous ladder after finally yielding to the demands of my bloated bladder. It was never a great idea to drink too much coffee up there on a working day….



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see also
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Onions hails England's patience
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